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Dental Lead, Lung Cancer and Monopoles

This week’s ezines on SpectroscopyNOW are now live, featuring a breath test for lung cancer, magnetic monopoles, a way to boost fuel cells, and reducing toxic waste from dental surgeries.

Extracting the dental lead – Lead contamination in the black paper used to mask dental X-ray paper has been determined for the first time using AAS. The worrying results suggest that the used material represents an environmental waste problem requiring pre-treatment before disposal.

I asked the researchers to outline the importance of their study. Team leader Debora Guedes told me that, “There are still more than 600 million packets of intraoral film exposed each year in the USA alone, and much more elsewhere in the world. The volume of potential waste materials is significant,” she says.

She pointed out that while attention has previously been given to the disposal of the lead foil used against backscatter radiation that can fog an X-ray image and also to avoiding lead-lined boxes to store intraoral dental X-ray film, lead contamination of the black paper used to help exclude light from the film, or the paper or plastic wrapping of the film and lead foil has been ignored entirely, she adds. “This study is an important public health contribution as it indicates that this neglect is of potential importance,” Guedes told me.

A breather for lung cancer suspects – Researchers in Israel have used cheminformatics methods to “train” an array of gold-nanoparticle sensors to rapidly distinguish between the out breath of lung cancer patients and that of healthy individuals.

Monopoles apart – Four research papers, two of which were published in the journal Science, this week, and two submitted to the physics preprint archive, suggest that a long-sought icon of fundamental physics has finally been discovered – the magnetic monopole. This fundamental research could have enormous potential in materials research, nanotechnology, and eventually instrumentation.

Fuelling nanotube potential – X-ray diffraction and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy have been used to analyse semimetallic titanium dioxide nanotubes with potential in fuel cell technology.

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